Wednesday, July 30, 2014

82:120 Poison Promise by Jennifer Estep

The eleventh book in the Elemental Assassin series.  Gin keeps waiting for things to settle down but that has yet to happen.  This time however, it's not so much the would-be killers coming after her but that the drug dealers are messing with one of her staff and she happened to be a witness to it and of course, Gin was not going to let that stand.  Now she is going up against the King of Southtown, Beauregard Benson, who is not only a vampire but also an air elemental and dealing the newest drug, Burn.  But more than him, it seems like there is someone behind the scenes pulling the strings and that could be prove to be the most deadly of all.

A good installment of the story.  Lots of action, some actual character growth, a bit of backstory we hadn't heard to death and that actually showed a bit more of how her character came to be, and the best of all the constant internal monogloging was a bare fraction of it's usual which meant the book was mostly plot and not just filler!  It was such a wonderful change of pace and I hope it continues as I do like the world and the characters but that always bugged me.

Page count: 400p/20,924p ytd/201,962p lifetime

81:120 Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco

Set in 1327, Brother William of Baskerville and his novice, Adso, have arrived at an Italian abbey in order to be present for a meeting between the Franciscans and emissaries of the Pope.  William arrives early to find that there has been a mysterious death in the abbey and he is asked by the abbot to investigate.  As an early predecessor to Sherlock Holmes, he observes and deduces and uses logic but will it be enough?

I really enjoyed the movie with Sean Connery and Christian Slater so was excited to see what more the book would add to it but honestly, it took me forever to get through and surprisingly, I enjoy the movie more (this is a weird thing for me to say but there you have it).  Most of what was cut out was long passages of theological discussion or pages describing the abbey.  It was long winded and hard to get through because things would start happening with the mystery which interested me and then would get sidetracked over to stories about how the different Christian factions were hating on each other which interested me not at all.  Not a bad book, just not the book for me.

Page count: 536p/20,524p ytd/201,562p lifetime

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

80:120 The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

A golem, a being out of Jewish folklore made out of clay and brought to live by magic, is created for a man to be his wife when he moves to NY.  He wakes her on the way but dies almost immediately after leaving her as a newborn to find her way on her own.  In order to know what her master wants, she can feel desires and wants in others which leads to many problems as she arrives with no master or idea of what to do with herself.  Thankfully, she is found by a kind rabbi who works to help her grow into as fully realized a person as she can be.

Over in the Middle Eastern area of NY, a woman takes a flask to the local metalsmith to be repaired when to his surprise, a jinn emerges from it.  The jinn has been imprisoned for hundreds of years with no idea how he came to be in the flask or trapped in human form.  He chafes at the human rules he is forced to follow and starts sneaking out to explore the city.  On one of these excursions, he finds the golem, a creature that is not like himself but is not human but living in human society and a friendship of sorts is born.  Unfortunately, there is more connecting them than either of them can possibly know but those things will test them beyond anything they could imagine.

There weren't any major surprises for me in this story.  I got pretty much exactly the story I was expecting but despite the fact that it was fairly predictable, it was beautifully told and wonderfully executed.

Page count: 486p/19,988p ytd/201,026p lifetime

Sunday, July 20, 2014

79:120 Authority by Jeff VanderMeer

The second book in the Southern Reach trilogy.  We left the last book at the end of the 12th expedition to Area X with everyone but the biologist dead and she was heading north away from any form of civilization.  Authority starts off in the Southern Reach with Control (aka John Rodrigues) having just been put in charge of the operations there which deal with Area X since the previous director was part of the last expedition.  The assistant director is openly hostile while doing her job and making it clear that she feels he is there temporarily until the old director returns which she feels will happen any time since the other members of the expedition have already returned.  Control is feeling anything but in control as he works to try and get information out of the returned biologist and learn his way around Southern Reach, especially once he starts digging into the previous director's things: drawers filled with papers rotting under a live unpotted plant and a dead mouse, a closet with words written all over it that seem to have some significance but what he can't imagine, and a photograph of her as a child with the lighthouse keeper who was lost to Area X when it sprang up.  Now he is trying to piece together just what has gone wrong at Southern Reach and what it means in regards to Area X but the more he digs, the stranger things seem to get until he's not even about the agency he works for.

I didn't find this one quite as slow-reading as the last one but I was really hoping for answers to all the unanswered questions from the last book and I got a few and pieces of answers for a few more but in all, this seemed to raise even more questions.  It is a bit frustrating to wait and hope that the questions that I have will actually be answered, at least in enough of a fashion that I don't want to throw things, in the last book.  I'm enjoying the mystery for the most part although I wish the characters were easier to relate too.

Page count:   340p/19,502p ytd/200,540p lifetime

Friday, July 18, 2014

78:120 The Day the Dead Came to Show and Tell by Mira Grant

A novella set in the world of Newsflesh.  The Rising took place years ago but still we are struggling to find ways to keep ourselves, and most importantly, our children safe while still allowing for social interaction.  It's a fine line and one where it is all too easy to make mistakes.  In this case, a teacher is doing what she can when everything that is put in place to protect her and the children in her care goes absolutely wrong.

This was a hard one and I knew that going in.  I'm a parent and have a child only slightly older than the main ones in this book and it was so easy to see what was going to happen.  It's the only thing that kept me able to read it was reminding myself over and over again that a) zombie apocalypse has not happened yet and b) my kids are homeschooled anyway so they wouldn't be in that exact situation.  Honestly, if you are a parent of young children with a good imagination, don't read this one especially before bed.  It's heart-wrenching.  At the same time however, it also outlines and mirrors what is going on in our society with how we want our teachers to put their lives on the line to save our children in the event of emergency but we are also quick to condemn them in any situation where something went horribly wrong despite all the precautions being taken that could.

While the events in this take place before Feed, there are conversations between characters in the commentary that indicate it is being written after the events of Blackout so do not read this before that as there are spoilers in that commentary.

Page count: 112p/19,162p ytd/200,200p lifetime

Friday, July 4, 2014

77:120 Nightingale by Jennifer Estep

The 4th book in the Bigtime series.  Abby Appleby is the premier event planner in Bigtime and she prides herself on being prepared for any contingency during those events but what she wasn't prepared for was seeing Talon going head-to-head with Bandit in the alley on her way home from an event.  She manages to save Talon but his eyesight has been compromised and he was shot but since she can't take him to the hospital since it would endanger everyone there, she takes him home to nurse him back to health.  It's just the sort of thing she is perfectly capable of but she doesn't count on falling in love with the superhero while he's there.  She figures he is a millionaire and not someone who would ever be interested in a mere event planner like her so before he is fully healed, she drops him off where he'll be found but before he can figure out who she really is.  All he really knows when he wakes up is that he was nursed back to health by his "Nightingale" who sings with a beautiful voice and loves music and he desperately wants to find her but no one seems to have the faintest idea who she might be.  When Abby figures out who Talon really is and that he is looking for her, will she come clean?

Basic romance story but again we have a lot of repetitive, and many times destructive, inner monologuing.  I got the series cheaply so I finished it but I don't think I'll be racing to the bookstore to buy more in the series should they ever come out.  The world is interesting and fun but I'm not a fan of her way of dealing with the romances in this world.  I will say I did get a little chuckle out of the characters here ordering food all the way from "The Pork Pit in Ashland" which is a nod to her Elemental Assassin series.

Page count: 292p/19,050p ytd/200,088p lifetime

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

76:120 A Karma Girl Christmas by Jennifer Estep

As the newest superhero member of the Fearless Five, Karma Girl has been selected to guard the Christmas toys and gifts that will be given out on Christmas morning to the needy children of Bigtime.  Although an ubervillain has never before messed with these gifts, this year the Mintalator and Caveman Stan have decided they are tired of a being a D-list villains and are going to nab them and sell them on eBay to fund their retirement.  Can Karma Girl possibly defeat both of them by herself with only her psychic superpower to help her?

It was nice seeing how Karma Girl is actually fitting in as a superhero and member of the Fearless Five as she hasn't been a big character since the first book in the series.  I also liked how with it being a short story, there wasn't the repetitive inner-monologue which irritates me so.  Just a nice sweet story.

Page count: 91p/18,758p ytd/199,796p lifetime

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

75:120 Jinx by Jennifer Estep

The 3rd book in the Bigtime series.  Bella Belluci is staunchly anti-superhero/ubervillian despite having her own version of a superpower where she can influence 'luck' although unfortunately for her, it's usually bad luck finding it's way to her although it's never serious.  Having patched up her grandfather, father, and brother who has all moonlighted as Johnny Angel, waited up to make sure they returned home safely, and getting the phone call telling her of her father's demise after he messed with a couple of ubervillians, she is over all of them.  Of course, it just goes to figure that she ends up in the middle of a battle between Debonair and Hangman over the largest sapphire in town.  Next thing she knows, she is back at Debonair's Lair of Seduction and despite her most practical and reasoned self, she is falling for the masked man.  She knows it can never work, that she can't live with that kind of uncertainty in her life, but she every time she tries to break it off something, her 'luck' maybe, thrusts them back together again.  Can she overlook his extracurricular activities to have a happily ever after?

Again, these books are basically fluff and just a nice, easy way to pass some time while at the kids' activities and again, I have issues with the constant repetitive inner monologues and these were worse because all she does is berate herself about her figure/weight/eating.  Seriously?!  Because women don't do that crap to themselves enough, let's make sure that we can't escape it even in books that are full of fluff.  I'm glad she found someone who appreciated her the way she is but considering in the drawing on the cover, she is a size 4, maybe, that's not really any improvement.  She is also constantly berating her lack of artistic skill as 'just a hobby'.  Please, I get that it's common place for women to think like this but we need to think better of ourselves and I don't think making characters this way is healthy especially in something that it supposed to be light and fun.

Page count: 324p/18,667p ytd/199,705p lifetime